Problems with Brother in-law - FamilyEducation
Problems with Brother in-law
11/30/2008 at 19:41 PM

I'm not exactly married but I've been in a serious relationship with a guy whom I'm absolutely in love with, but there is just one problem.... His stubborn older brother.  I can go on forever about the problems that have occured over the past two years, but I don't think this message board will allow that much typing!  There is NO doubt in my mind that Jon is the guy for me, he is sincere, loyal and very open hearted.  We just somehow find a way to bicker about the hostile relationship that his brother and I have with each other.  I just want my boyfriend's support that I'm not the one who is in the wrong.  I'm not asking him to choose sides but just to assure me that I'm not the one that problems arise because of.  His brother and I have never really gotten along, but then again, his brother really has no friends, and I think he shows his jealously towards me in the most bitter of ways.  He tries to one up me all the time, if i say something positive, he has to throw in a negetive (even if he's not in the discussion).  I'm just not used to having someone around that is as arrogant and close minded as his older brother is.  His older brother, Steve, is 29, never graduated highschool, has been looking for a house but can't afford it so he remains to live in a small apartment which he is not happy with, and does factory work for a living.  I am not downgrading him for any of it, but I think that he is jealous that I've got my life in order (full time college student, part time job, good grades, etc etc,)   Most of all, I think that he is jealous of the time that I spend with his younger brother (Jon).  (Steve only has two friends, of which are his two brothers).  And No i'm not just saying this because I don't like him, but because the entire time I've been around, I've never seen him with anyone except his girlfriend, or heard of him speak about friends.  Even Jon tells me that he has trouble making friends.  I just don't know what to do, I don't feel welcome to family gatherings because his entire family know only his side of the story but not mine. 

One situation that stands out is i had a friend coming home from the army so I planned a get together with some of my friends and Jon and I to go out drinking at the bar for my friend.   Steve asked Jon what our plans were and Jon told him, knowing that our relationship is not strong, thinking Steve would not be interested.  But Steve insisted on coming along.  Jon then asked me when I came into the room (and steve was not to be seen, in the other room) if i wanted steve and his girlfriend to come.  Of course i was shocked at this and said "no, why would i want him to come? he's much older and these are plans i made for my friend?"  Like i just don't get why he would want to hang around 18-20 year olds all night????? Let alone, at a tiny bar.  Steve overheard me, because i did not know he was in the next room and got snotty with me and said "why? does it matter if we come?" to this i replied that he wouldn't have fun because it was just a bunch of young kids.. and so Jon and I immediately left his moms house to avoid further conflict.   That night, when Jon and I show up at the bar, sure enough, Steve is there.  Why? Was it to piss me off?  I'm not sure.  I just kind of shrugged it off and had a good time with my friends.  A couple hours later, Steve approached Jon and I and said goodbye to Jon indicating he was leaving and then looked at me, and pinched my arm and said "later muscles"   So this is where the problems all got serious, I looked at him when he got ahold of me, and gave him the indication that he was hurting me and that i didn't like it, so what does he do?  Pinches harder.. and longer.  My arm ended up becoming bruised.  I just don't get why he has to be so cruel.  I didn't do anything to deserve this, and my boyfriend refuses to let me talk to Steve about it because he fears that I'll blow up on him.  I just want to know his intentions and why he is the way he is.  I think I deserve a reason, don't I?

Another thing that is very disrespectful and annoying is that Steve and his girlfriend smoke constantly.  I've told them in the past that the cigerette smoke irritates my eyes to the point where I can't see and I get a major headache.  So what do they do?  Ignore me and smoke anyway.  A couple weeks later i went to the doctors office because I was getting sick and my throat had been sore since the incident and i told her my concerns, She said i was most definately having allergic reactions to the smoke.  The next time we all got together (we carpooled in their car to a restaurant 20 minutes away)  I told them before we left that my doctor said i was allergic and asked them not to smoke in the car while i was in there. Steve, trying to have 1 up on me, said my doctor didn't know anything and ignored me.  Again, they ignored my request and went away with smoking.  Again, I got sick from it.  My boyfriend knows that I get sick from the smoke so anytime we must hang out, we drive separate.  I would hate to be discluded because of 1 family member but I just can't get away from the problems, because something new always happens.

I just don't know what to do, my boyfriend does not want me to address his brother about my issues and i feel that he feels that I'm just being a baby about it.  But why would his brother take it a step further and try to physically hurt me?  Is he trying to chase me out of Jon's life?  Please help me!

Full time college student, good grades, about 20 years old. Time to move on from Jon. You need to free yourself up, finish college, get a job, and start looking for a man who is ready to be a man. In that order.

Well that's not exactly what i was looking to do. Jon and I have a perfect relationship, we've lived together for majority of our relationship and everything has been amazing, we get along so well. It's just he doesn't know how to deal with putting his OWN brother in his place. I know that he knows what his brother does is wrong, he just doesn't know that if he doesn't speak to him about it, his brother will think it's okay and continue to do it. After posting this i had a serious talk about the situation with him, and he seems to get where i'm coming from. At first i was very upset/mad so i said everything in the book that there is to say, which he didn't like, because he's never had someone he loved insult someone else he loved as well. But i'm a bit more comfortable speaking about it now since that all happened about a month ago and i've had time to cool down. So he gets that i don't want him to like never talk to his brother again, but simply get a reason for his actions. Jon is perfect for me, he's a full time student as well, in paramedic training, takes care of me beyond what's even reasonable and just loves me to death. I think the situation was rough on him because he didn't believe his brother would intentionally try to hurt me...

If Jon is perfect for you, then why is it that you are even here? The fact that he has yet to address his brothers actions towards the girl he loves, suggests Jon is not willing to cause a problem with his brother for your sake. In both posts, you mention that you want to know why his brother is acting the way he is. My question is, why does it matter? Are you looking to find something that you can change about yourself so his brother will like you? Stop giving his brother so much power over you. Jon's brother seems like one of those wonderful people who get a thrill knowing that they can get a reaction out of someone. Once you show him your weakness, you are his. Stop wearing your emotions on your sleeve, and for god sakes stop putting yourself in a position that his brother is in control of. You talked about riding with him and his gf. Once you told him that you had an allergic reaction to the smoke, he knew your weakness and used it against you. At some point you need to realize that his brother , at least for the time being, is not going to change. Rather than continually wondering why he acts the way he does, instead you should ask yourself why you let it affect you so much. No person will have any more power over you than what you allow them to have.

Jon is perfect for me, it's just he's never dealt with family/girlfriend porblems of this sort. I know Steve has given his other girlfriends problems, but from my understanding they did something to set him off. I wrote this BEFORE i read a bunch of advice online, I just needed to get it off my chest without talking to Jon about it because I can't speak of steve without saying "asshole, dick, etc" So I addressed Jon after I posted this and told him I had done some research and that it was his responsibility to handle things out with his brother to show that he respects me, and he understood completely. Its not that i want to know why he does things for the sake of changing, I know i haven't done anything wrong. Afterall, I have friends that I can go out with, unlike bitter Steve. It's so i can understand why he's so twisted. What his motives are, is he trying to chase me out? Why he's got such a problem with me? etc.. He makes me want to study the human mind, he is THAT bad. I mean now i avoid seeing him whenever possible unless it's a holiday or I'm at his moms doing something. But the next time anything does happen, I hope Jon knows its HIS responsibility to stick up to him. Afterall, Jon could be a bit nicer to him about it. I could careless though, I'd rather get things off my chest and tell him what I really think of him. But i have enough respect for my boyfriend not to make that move. And thank you, i understand what you mean about the weakness thing. It's just i didn't think someone would be so ignorant as to smoke in front of someone who is cleary allergic and then say the doctor doesn't know anything. I have nothing positive to say about steve.

I know your situation all too well. I'm living it w/ my in-laws. As SnglDad has mentioned, if you show weakness, your BF's brother will take advantage of this opportunity to knock you down. I know it's hurtful, but this man will probably never change. Also, your BF is in the middle of all this. Put yourself in his shoes. I agree he shld be sticking up for you, but I'm sure it's difficult for him to react when he's caught in the middle. Do yourself a favor and avoid your BF's brother when you can. When you have to be together, be nice, but don't go out of your way to socialize w/ him. If he comes up to you and says or does something hurtful, don't hold back. Look him straight in the eyes and put him in his place right then and there. If you don't do that, he'll continue to treat you in this manner. I wldn't worry about making a scene. Obviously this guy doesn't care, so why shld you? As for your BF, take him aside next time something like this happens, and make it very clear that you're not going to tolerate any of it. If your BF doesn't like that, and he continues to tiptoe around his brother, pick up and leave. Hopefully your BF will get the point, and realize he needs to be more supportive. Good luck. My family mess has been going on for over 2 yrs now, and the games are still being played. Some people just never grow up.

You chose the name virtuous me, and I wonder if there is something we can infer from that. Why do you have to have anything to do with this brother if you don't like him. Just keep out of his way.

That's easier said than done, junieg. When family gatherings arise, there will most likely be disagreements between virtuous me and her BF. It will cause much stress, and one of them will probably end up giving in. I'm sure vm wants very much to be close to her BF's family, and I'm sure she wants to be at her BF's side when they all get together. It wld be ideal if vm's BF wld stand up to his brother. That's where I see the bulk of the problem. This BF's brother is getting away w/ treating vm as he pleases, meanwhile, her BF stands by and just lets it happen. I think I'd be more angry w/ the BF, than w/ his brother. The way I see it, if vm's BF doesn't step up to the plate and do something to set his brother straight, his relationship w/ vm is doomed. I think if vm's BF's brother realizes that his relationship w/ his brother is threatened by his actions, he will be forced to change his ways. If he chooses not to change, then the couple can do one of 2 things. 1. Stay away from this brother. 2. Split up. Once again, what happens, depends on the decision of the BF. I don't think vm plans on going anywhere, unless of course she gets totally fed up w/ both of these guys.

You appear to be self-rightous to me. You say you are not "downgrading" your bf brother, but you highlight the fact that he works in a factory, lives in an apartment and did not graduate high school. It appears to me that you think you are better than him. Even your screen name indicates that you believe you are virtuous. I beleive that you provoke this guy in some ways and he desires to bring you down and that's why he will always say something negative to your postive. If you carpool with smokers, chances are they are going to smoke in the car. Take you own car insead of asking them to conform to your comfort. I just think you should take some responsibility here. I think your bf brother might be acting like a jerk, but I think there is a reason. I bet you're acting like you are better than him and he is trying to knock you off your thrown.

Good pt, tamz. I actually had the same thought after reading the initial post. I remember vm saying she didn't want her BF's brother tagging along w/ them and her friends when they had plans to go out. Although she took her BF aside, she still did it w/in earshot of her BF's brother. Hearing the conversation probably hurt him. He probably just wanted to be social b/c, as it was mentioned before, he doesn't have many friends. So I agree vm cld've handled the situation better. That said, I still don't think this brother has a right to pinch vm's arm or carry on w/ negative remarks. Vm needs to learn how to handle her BF's brother in a more kind hearted way since he appears to be quite sensitive. The brother, in turn, needs to back off and not be so vendictive. Hopefully, together, they can find a fine balance that works for both of them. The BF, I'm sure, wants to see peace between vm and his brother and it's probably hard for him to get emotionally involved. Yet I still think the BF needs to be a bit more supportive, and if he sees that either vm or his brother is being hurtful, he shld say something.